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Oak Hill plans expansion of its emergency room

As part of its continuing effort to expand services, Oak Hill Hospital will double the size of its emergency room.

The project, approved by parent company HCA-The Health Care Co. on Wednesday and announced locally Thursday, will cost about $10-million, Oak Hill chief executive Jaime Wesolowski said. It also includes a tripling of the emergency room waiting space.

"It's going to be over 15,000-square-feet added to the footprint of the hospital, and renovation of the existing 9,000-square-feet" of the emergency room, Wesolowski said. "It's a big project."

The construction will create separate entrances for walk-in patients and ambulance patients, he said. The hospital's successful Quick Care program, started last October, will be "enhanced dramatically," too.

Also new will be a second triage room, an isolation room and 11 new patient beds, bringing the number to 29. The waiting area will be increased from 30 to 90 seats.

"It's going to mean a faster ER," Wesolowski said. "It's going to mean much more comfort while waiting."

The company is working out all the plan details, and does not intend to begin construction before next spring. The work would take about one year, Wesolowski said, putting an opening around March 2003.

The announcement comes at a time of much activity among the local hospitals.

Oak Hill also has been approved to start an open-heart surgery program. That state approval is under challenge by Brooksville Regional Hospital, which has proposed building a new $38-million hospital at a new location.

County commissioners have not authorized that move.

Brooksville Regional also has asked the state for permission to create an open-heart program. Its sister hospital, Spring Hill Regional, expects to start construction of a new emergency room by the end of the year.

That project calls for a $6-million, 14,000-square-foot addition to the existing 7,000-square-foot unit. The number of beds will go from seven to 22.

Oak Hill had a $11.5-million expansion of its surgery department in 1996. The hospital is on State Road 50 west of Mariner Boulevard.

_ Times staff writer Jeffrey S. Solochek covers Hernando County government, and can be reached at 754-6115. Discuss this and other issues in our Web-based discussion forum at http:// www.sptimes.com/hernandoforum.

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